Friday, March 12, 2010

A review of "In The Bleak Midwinter" [17]

In the Bleak Midwinter (A Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery) by Julia Spencer-Fleming
(St. Martin's Minotaur, ISBN 0-312-28847-6)

Another review of the first in a series, but unlike the last one I reviewed, that was newly released, this one is several years old. But it is a series that I have heard good things about and I like to start a series at the beginning.

It is a cold, snowy winter in the Adirondack mountain town of Millers Kill and the new pastor of the Episcopal church of St. Alban's, the Rev. Claire Fergusson has a number of challenges facing her. Her parish is not totally comfortable with a woman pastor, nor with some of the more socially involved directions she has the parish taking. An ex-Army helicopter pilot, she is used to facing some difficult climates, and the weather of upstate NY in the winter will be not exception.
But when she finds a newborn baby abandoned on the stairs of the church and then is present when Chief of Police Russ Van Alystyne find the dead body of a young woman who may be the child's mother, she finds herself drawn into situations she never foresaw.

I had a couple of issues with believability in this book. For example, Claire, on a couple of occasions, engages in some very stupid, poorly thought out behavior. Driving off alone, in a blizzard, in a car not up to the weather, when you know a murderer is one the loose...if this was a movie I would have been yelling at the screen. Second, for an unmarried female minister, in a small town, to be spending as much time alone with the very married male chief of police while his wife is away...seems very poor judgment and rather unbelievable.
Buy a pair of real snow boots, some winter clothes and trade in that totally unsuitable sports car for something safe and practical in bad weather for goodness sake!

Still. that being said, overall this is a good book. The mystery is well written, with a good, action packed plot and with a number of very appealing characters. And as you know, I am a sucker for a cold, snowy setting. In fact, the weather is such a large part of the book that I will be interested to see how the series makes out in future installments not set in the “bleak midwinter”. But we will still have the continuing storyline of the growing friendship between the Reverend and the chief to keep us interested, no doubt.
Recommended for mystery fans, especially if you are looking for a nice new series.

This book came out of my personal library.

Yes, I know Christmas is long over, and there is no "snow on snow" around here anymore, but I could not pass up this opportunity to share a lovely song.


  1. I love that song :-) It's always the right time for good music.

  2. The book does sound good and I could see someone using poor judgment like that. As hard as this might be to believe, not everyone is as sharp as we are! LOL

  3. Yeah, I'd be screaming at the screen right along with you girlfriend. It is shocking to me how many fictional and real life people have no sense whatsoever.

  4. This is one of my favorite mystery series. Yes, this one shows Claire not in the best light, but she will grow on you. She and Russ both. Hope you continue with the series. I really enjoy it! Thanks for the song. The weather in these books is almost another character. I love that.

  5. is a beautiful song. Maybe part of why I liked the book. ;-)

    Kathy, I like my characters to be smarted than I am...not too much to ask, I think. lol

    Sandy, I have little patience for stupid characters. Maybe I just have little patience.

    Kay, I will not give up on the series...yet. I will certainly give it another chance. But if the Rev keeps acting stupidly....

  6. I absolutely pull my hair out over stupid amateur sleuth moves. I think that's why I'm not overly fond of 'cozies'....little old ladies doing stupid stuff drive me nuts. Meg Gardiner's books are the same way.

    That said, I love Claire Ferguson and this whole series. She has not yet gotten over her Army helo pilot macho self-image (can you say "TOP GUN"??) and it shows. I've read a couple more of these, and I will only say she's intelligent enough to figure it out.

    Glad you're enjoying them


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